Monday, September 6, 2010

P4E.177 Now What? - Part 7

I had the Christianity list checked off. The only thing I hadn't succumbed to was the obligatory Christian sticker on the rear window of the car. Being a mechanically minded man, I went through a Christianity checklist and since nothing appeared to be broken, I didn't mess with it. I "left well-enough alone" and I didn't try to fix what wasn't broken. But, I simply wasn't experiencing what Scripture calls the fruit of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. My marriage was nearly at the breaking point. I'm very blessed that it did not break. Through the ministry of Life Partners and Ken Nair (author, speaker and marriage counsellor) and the help of my wife and wonderful, Godly friends, I came to an understanding of what it means to pursue Christlikeness.

When I look at Scripture from God's Ten Commandments, to Jesus' condensation of the Law, to Jesus final command I've come to realize that the "Now What?" part of Christianity is entirely relational. Relationship with God (Have no gods before me, make no idols, don't use My name in vain, etc., etc.), relationship with others (Love your neighbor as yourself) and relationship with myself (If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.)

I had some sense that I had to move forward in my relationship with Christ and others, but I simply wasn't clear on how to do it. My definition of what made a spiritual leader had become seriously flawed. A breakthrough came when I heard Ken Nair's definition of what a spiritual leader is:

"A man who has the ability to perceive the spirit of another, understand its condition at that moment, and know what is required by God to care for that person's spirit in a manner that will increase that person's spiritual maturity."

Ken's encouragement to understand my own spirit as a prerequisite to perceiving the spirit of another was key. This is not a selfish pursuit, if the goal is ultimately to relate to others in a more spiritually sensitive and caring way. Jesus' phrase "Physician heal thyself" is relevant here. It carries with it the idea that I must attend to my own defects before I point out and criticize the defects of others (especially my wife and children). Also, the understanding that emotions are a gauge of my own spirit and other's spirits has been so helpful in terms of being able to perceive my own condition and how to care for it and other's spirits.

I honestly had no idea how barren, numb, and detached my spirit had become. As I mentioned before, the only emotions I could name were "angry, impatient and frustrated." There was no way I could be the Romans 12 Believer. I had no vehicle by which I could "rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep." I simply could not empathize with others, because I had no point of emotional connection that I could draw on. Hopefully, I've come a long way from there and a long way towards understanding the pursuit of Christlikeness.

I'm going to keep pressing on. It's definitely not easy. It's a narrow way. A less traveled way. A way that invites ridicule and scorn. A way that will ultimately end in there being no more me and only Christ left.

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